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Germany Sets New Renewable Energy Record

Renewable Energy
Potatoes with wind turbines in Tiemannsegge, Lower Saxony, Germany. antje whv / Flickr

Germany has broken another renewable energy record, with clean power providing a third of of the country's electricity in 2017.

Preliminary data from the Association of Energy and Water Industries show that renewable electricity generation grew to a record 33 percent this year, up from 29 percent in 2016.


"The figures show impressively that there is already an accelerated shift in power generation from CO2-intensive to low-carbon and almost CO2-free energy sources," Stefan Kapferer, the chairman of the association, said.

“The energy industry is clearly on course with regard to energy and climate targets: our industry is able to reduce CO2 emissions by 40 percent by 2020 compared to 1990."

Onshore and offshore wind power has now surpassed natural gas, nuclear, and hard coal as the second largest electricity source, with a 16 percent slice of Germany's power mix.

Association of Energy and Water Industries' estimate of Germany's 2017 energy mix.Clean Energy Wire

Germany often makes headlines for its impressive renewable power achievements.

On especially windy and/or sunny days, German power operators are sometimes forced to pay customers to take electricity from the grid.

Most recently, thanks to low demand, unseasonably warm weather and strong breezes, power prices went negative for much of Sunday and the early hours of Christmas Day, the New York Times reported. This is now the second Christmas in a row with two days of negative spot power prices.

Still, there's room for improvement if Germany wants to meet the goals of its ambitious "Energiewende," or sustainable energy transition. The country's power supply still largely relies on lignite, aka brown coal, which generated about 23 percent of Germany's electricity this year.

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That's the conclusion of a new study from think tank Autonomy, which found that Germany, the UK and Sweden all needed to drastically reduce their workweeks to fight climate change.

"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."

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"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."

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"This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."

Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.

"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."

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